Forty biology, composition and literature students from Liberty Bell Junior/Senior High School and a group of community instructors participated in a five-hour block of field work and poetry at a restoration site along the Methow River off Old Twisp Highway in late September.
Brian Fisher from Methow Salmon Restoration Foundation and Rob Crandall from Methow Natives set goals for the day, and followed scientific protocols that mirrored what is done in the real world to gauge effectiveness of restoration goals and objectives. Students identified and counted different types of macro invertebrates and recorded water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, average temperature, pH, nitrate, turbidity and conductivity.
The students donned waders and wielded depth gauges, meter tapes and flow meters. They measured the number, length and depth of pools and riffles along a stretch of the side channel and determined the stream flow along the width of the side channel in comparison to the Methow River.
Biology students evaluated the establishment of riparian habitat by measuring shade, canopy layers, biodiversity, cover and natural regeneration. Some students also worked with artist-in-residence poet Cindy Williams-Gutierrez, and teacher Kelly Grayum, to learn how to use the river to inspire poems. Methow Arts supported the science and poetry connection.
Biologists Drew Lovell, Eric Portman, Kristen Kirkby and Jennifer Molesworth rounded out the group to provide a small instructor-to-student ratio (groups of four students) and share their love of field biology. The field trip allowed students to make connections between art and nature, reflect on the path of their life and the river, and engage in scientific practices, such as interpreting data and communicating the results from the data.
Information provided by Lisa Monahan, Liberty Bell Junior-Senior High School.